Thought: Tragedy of death is based on perspective

A story in the newspaper about a 97-year-old who dies in his sleep evokes considerably less sorrow than another about a 14-year old who dies in a car accident. At first glance, the discrepancy has a simple explanation involving expectation. We expect someone to die when they are old. To be comfortable when our expectations are met is normal, but I think there is more to it. After all, we also know it's normal for people to die at all ages. For some reason despite this knowledge, we react as if we think there is someone in charge of giving everyone a certain amount of life and when this doesn't happen, a mistake has been made.

A death count from a bombing read about in the newspaper creates more emotion than the death count from an old-folks home. But should we really think in this way? Realistically, we understand that just because someone is old doesn't mean that they have less life to live than someone who is young. Some people fit as much experience and growth into 5 years as others fit into a lifetime. Times moves differently for different people. Yet, we still place judgement on how tragic one death is over another.

Maybe, it's really just about ourselves and less about reality. When an old person dies, part of us is comforted because we hope to live as long. When someone young dies, it makes us uncomfortable to think that the same could happen to us or members of our family.

Wouldn't it be better to be less discriminate in regard to the deaths we hear and read about? Death is a melancholy reality no matter the age-- What is 55 compared to 109? Who are we to judge the complexity of life through our reactions to death?